Frank Thomas might not be playing baseball anymore, but his legacy most certainly is.
The former White Sox slugger retired with 521 home runs in a career that landed smack dab in the middle of the steroid era. He’s always been outspoken and critical of the likes of Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa, two of his peers whose inflated, Nintendo-like numbers easily surpassed Thomas in the prime of his baseball life.
So when news broke Tuesday that Major League Baseball is closing in on Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and around 20 other players in the ongoing Biogenesis PED scandal, Thomas grabbed a bat and took a verbal swing at the latest round of alleged cheaters.
[RELATED: MLBPA releases statement on Biogenesis scandal]
“I just feel right now Major League Baseball is very serious, and they’ve shown they’re very serious to get after this thing the way they have here. Something now is going on, and it’s going to be stopped really soon,” Thomas said. “I think people are guilty now and they’ve got evidence. It’s going to be an ugly situation.”
Braun, a former National League MVP, might have successfully appealed a 50-game suspension for testing positive for elevated testosterone in 2011. He also denies ever receiving or using PEDs.
Either way, Thomas isn’t buying it.
“The excuse [Braun] came up with, the guy taking his sample and changing the sample before it got to the laboratory. I mean, Jesus, they handle like a million samples a year and it never happens, so this is going to be something very serious and I look forward to seeing what happens,” Thomas said.
Even if he is able to escape guilt again, Thomas says that Braun’s legacy is permanently damaged.
“It’s going to be tainted forever.”
Later this year, Thomas’ name will be on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. He, along with pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, could potentially be inducted together next summer.
Getting into Cooperstown used to be the goal of every player in the game.
The almighty dollar and the cheating that exists in the pursuit of it has changed everything.
“A lot of these guys, they don’t really care [about the Hall of Fame],” said Bill Melton, who played 10 major league seasons from 1968 until 1977, including eight years with the White Sox. “The money is so good now, you could be set for life. So you might as well try [steroids] for five years and if you’re caught, who cares? You’re still set for life. But the guys before this all started, it was really all about getting to the Hall of Fame. I’m not really sure any of these guys care about the Hall of Fame. I really don’t think they do.”
Thomas does. He hopes to get in on the first ballot. However, standing in his way are the legion of cheaters who have corrupted the game, throwing statistics -- which ultimately decides who gets into Cooperstown -- completely out of whack.
[HARDBALL TALK: What happens next in the Biogenesis scandal?]
“I played in an era that started all this, and I feel like I was attacked by a lot of people for underachieving when I was doing some amazing things,” Thomas said. “I feel bad. I feel bad for the game first because they’ve got to deal with this again and they’re going to have to clean this up again. It just seems like it won’t go away.”
If baseball has any say in it, some players could be going away for a long time.